Informational Capitalism and U.S. Economic Hegemony

Resistance and Adaptations in East Asia

Author: Ngai-Ling Sum


This article promotes a "cultural international political economy" approach to globalization in East Asia in the so-called information age. It emphasizes the inherently discursive as well as material character of economic relations and their embedding in a complex web of different scales of action from local to global. Thus it introduces the policy discourses related to two major components in recent efforts to renew U.S. hegemony: promotion of the Global Information Infrastructure and the global expansion of intellectual property rights through the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights agreement. This initiative has enabled the emergence of a hegemonic GII-IPR-TRIPs complex supported by transnational informational capital, trade-related committees, and state agencies. This complex has triggered several forms of resistance and adaptation in East Asia. Targets of this resistance have been the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and the GII-IPR-TRIPs complex itself. Modes of counterhegemonic resistance have included state strategic support for the Linux movement as well as everyday tactics of software piracy. In addition, subhegemonic forces (e.g., APEC and national governments) have been acting as translating centers that help shape responses to efforts to consolidate the hegemony of the GII-IPR-TRIPs complex at regional levels.
Regions: East Asia

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September 2003
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